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The Lesser Peace – coming when

One of the friends wrote:

> Has anyone actually [written] to the House asking if the Lesser Peace has
> come? That letter differentiating it from the unity of nations could
> give the impression that it hadn’t.

People may have asked … we can only know what has been answered.

In 1989 the UHJ wrote “the precise circumstances attending the
establishment of the Lesser Peace are not known to us; even its exact
timing is concealed in the Major Plan of God.” In 1990: “there are
indications that the Lesser Peace cannot be too far distant,”. In 1992
they refer to “the near approach of the Lesser Peace.”

In 1995 they say that from what they observe “… we can appreciate
more adequately the unfolding reality of the vision projected by
Shoghi Effendi when he explained the implications of the raising up
of buildings that will constitute the world administrative seat of
the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. “This vast and irresistible process”, he
said, “will synchronize with two no less significant developments .. the
establishment of the Lesser Peace and the evolution of Bahá’í national and
local institutions”. It is a vision which, given the state of the world,
compels the completion of the Mount Carmel Projects as scheduled.

and in 1998: “Even a cursory survey of the global scene in recent
years cannot but lead to observations fraught with special
significance for a Baha’i viewer. For one thing, amid the din of a
society in turmoil can be discerned an unmistakable trend towards the
Lesser Peace.”

However, it is obvious that the lesser peace has not arrived, and
obvious to me that it is not close. Even after the institutions and
treaties required are in place, many years and false starts will go
by before all of the people of the world actually enjoy peace and
security. I will not see it, I am afraid my children will also not
see it. After that, it will take a generation or two before there is
“unity of nations” in the sense that the world is “one homeland” (which is
what the Persian text of the 7 candles says). Europe has had its lesser
peace for 50 years, it is only 10 years or so ago that we all got the
right to travel and live and work in every other country, and now Europe
is indeed becoming “one homeland.”

I think we should rethink the tasks facing this generation of Bahais and
the next in this perspective. Our primary tasks have to be building local
Bahai communities and making them open to society (in old-fashioned
terminology, consolidiation and teaching). The top-down model envisioned
that the governments were about to form the lesser peace and
simultaneously recognise the Bahai Faith at the international level :

During the last year, there was a sharp increase in the visits to the
World Centre of high-ranking government officials, other dignitaries
and media representatives, demonstrating the growing significance of
the spiritual and administrative centre of the Faith in the eyes of
the world. This appeared to underscore a trend towards a greater
familiarity of the governments of the nations with the evolving centre
of a World Faith. Viewing this trend from the Mountain of God, the
site of the current construction projects, and considering it in
conjunction with the developments taking place in local and national
Bahá’í communities, we can appreciate more adequately the unfolding
reality of the vision projected by Shoghi Effendi when he explained
the implications of the raising up of buildings that will constitute
the world administrative seat of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. “This vast
and irresistible process”, he said, “will synchronize with two no less
significant developments .. the establishment of the Lesser Peace and
the evolution of Bahá’í national and local institutions”. It is a
vision which, given the state of the world, compels the completion of
the Mount Carmel Projects as scheduled. (The Universal House of
Justice, Ridvan 152, 1995)

It’s not going to happen that way. What is happening is the
development of an open horizontal, organic global society, in which
“government” and “the media” no longer have that huge central
role. It’s the move from the centralised national societies of the
modern era to a mycelium post-modern society. The Bahai Faith will
prosper in the new society, because it is designed for it; for the
Bahai community to prosper it too will have to adjust to
postmodernity and then diffuse its qualities through the mycelium

Sen
~~~~~~~~
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6 Responses to “The Lesser Peace – coming when”

  1. bita rezvani said

    I heard somewhere that the lesser peace is going to begin when the peace treaty is signed by the israelies and palistanians, which might be in 2012.

  2. Sen said

    Sorry, but no. The Lesser Peace as defined in the Bahai Writings involves a lot more than a settlement in the Middle East. Abdu’l-Baha says:

    To remedy this condition there must be universal peace. To bring this about, a Supreme Tribunal must be established, representative of all governments and peoples; questions both national and international must be referred thereto, and all must carry out the decrees of this Tribunal. Should any government or people disobey, let the whole world arise against that government or people. (Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, 249)

    and

    For example, the question of universal peace, about which Bahá’u’lláh says that the Supreme Tribunal must be established:..” (Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, 305)

    So the establishment of a Supreme Tribunal is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the Lesser Peace. The reason is clear: even if one day the guns should fall silent all over the world, the next day some new dispute would arise. Without a mechanism to settle disputes and enforce the rulings on the disputes, peace can only be relative and transitory. For the same reasons, not just a world judiciary is required, but the whole mechanism of world government. Hence Shoghi Effendi writes:

    “It [what] must, however long and tortuous the way, lead, through a series of victories and reverses, to the political unification of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, to the emergence of a world government and the establishment of the Lesser Peace, …” (Citadel of Faith, 32)

    Bahais have been expecting the Lesser Peace Just Around the Corner for generations. At one time it was expected in 1917. Bernhard Leach writes of his pilgrimage in 1954:

    Shoghi Effendi is quietly and persistently laying the foundation of the future, “Most Great Peace”, the inspired Theocracy of the unity and maturity of mankind. He constantly at supper time laid emphasis upon the Administrative Order. He said clearly that the Lesser Peace (prophesied for 1963) would be a political peace instituted by the nations following upon the inevitable and necessary disaster approaching us.

    Ramona Brown (1954 pilgrimage) records him as saying “The Lesser Peace will be established within this century. The Most Great Peace, in the next century.” In a letter to the European Youth Conference, dated 4 July 1983, the Universal House of Justice writes: “This generation of Baha’i youth enjoys a unique distinction. You will live your lives in a period when… mankind will see the establishment of the Lesser Peace.” In the Ridvan message for 1992 they refer to “the near approach of the Lesser Peace.Douglas Martin, a member of the UHJ said in the same year that he expected “the emergence of the Lesser Peace and the completion of the complex of the structures that constitute the World Center of the Faith” during “the closing years of this century.”

    It’s all hopelessly optimistic with respect to the state of the world, but also shows ignorance of what the Bahai Writings really say about the Lesser Peace and what it involves. It is speculation built on speculation. What is needed is to return to the Bahai Writings and see what they actually say. Avoiding speculation on the date has a moral dimension too: if you tell people that the Lesser Peace is just around the corner, and they become the Bahais with the expectation of being in on the ground floor of the next big thing, they may well lose their faith when they realise it isn’t going to happen, for this generation. So you have a duty to be realistic, not hype the prospects.

    There more on this in “Century of Light” on this blog, although that strictly speaking is about “the unity of nations [when] all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland” — a stage which, if European experience is any indication, will follow on the Lesser Peace some 3 or more generations later, and can therefore hardly be expected in the 21st century.

  3. John said

    Shoghi Effendi got it wrong when he wrote that the construction of buildings on Mount Carmel will synchronize with the establishment of Lesser Peace. It just did not happen.

  4. Sen said

    The completion of the buildings on Mount Carmel did not synchonize with the establishment of the Lesser Peace, certainly. However Shoghi Effendi did not say it would. What he wrote is here:
    http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/MBW/mbw-43.html

    He is speaking of synchronized processes, that is, process that run their course at the same time. They will, he says, “attain its final consummation, in the Golden Age of the Faith”

    I see no reason to think that “the development of a world-wide divinely-appointed Administrative Order” has come to an end, I think the institutions are still in their infancy.

  5. John said

    The letter of Shoghi Effendi describes the process of construction of seats on Mount Carmel to include that of the Guardianship, Hands and the UHJ. He then says this process will synchronize with the establishment of Lesser Peace. So he is not talking of the process of establishment of Lesser Peace. He is talking of establishment of Lesser Peace. The interesting point is that the construction work that actually took place did not follow Shoghi Effendi’s instructions in this letter. We don’t have seats of the Guardianship and Hands on Mount Carmel. So this letter of Shoghi Effendi does not apply to the current scenario where we have seats of the UHJ, ITC and Study of Sacred Texts as opposed to seats of the Guardianship, Hands and the UHJ. I don’t think the seats of the Guardianship and Hands can be substituted for something else.

  6. Sen said

    He wrıtes of structures beıng built which wıll serves as ” the administrative seats of such divinely appointed institutions as the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause, and the Universal House of Justice.” Because the 3 seats listed are examples, not a definitive listıng of what must be built, the process of buildiıng them is open-ended. It cannot have a definite end, because there ıs no definite lıst of what ıs to be built. But the two process wıll be synchronous, occuring at the same tıme.

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